Approximately 57% of organizations report that at least half of their workforce works from home at least twice a week.
Despite the growing popularity of remote work, many of these companies have minimal (if any) cybersecurity policies in place to protect their employees and their businesses. For example, 70% reported allowing employees to access corporate assets from personal devices (yikes).
Whether you’ve recently switched to remote team management or have been overseeing your employees from afar for years, it’s never too late to evaluate and level up your cybersecurity strategy.
In this blog, we discuss the importance of security in remote work environments and how you can protect your employees and your company’s data with better security practices.
Why security matters in remote work environments
There are plenty of benefits to remote work, but there are also some significant drawbacks — specifically in the security department. Here are some of the greatest security risks associated with working from home:
- Expanded attack surfaces: Teams being spread worldwide means more networks to protect, which creates more opportunities for security gaps.
- Less oversight: Company cybersecurity staff typically aren’t monitoring people’s home networks, making it harder for them to catch and rectify issues.
- Poor data practices: It’s common for employees to share sensitive data via unsecured channels (often in the name of efficiency).
- More opportunities for phishing attacks: Since remote employees rely more on email, there’s a greater possibility that they will click on suspicious links and fall victim to phishing attacks.
- Unsecured hardware and networks: Many remote employees use unsecured devices or work on unsecured networks, increasing their vulnerability to security breaches.
With the potential for so many issues, it’s no wonder cybersecurity will be one of the top remote work trends in 2023.
How to level up your remote team's cybersecurity
It’s easy for those in virtual team management roles to get overwhelmed by all the potential cybersecurity risks associated with remote work. The good news, though, is that there are many steps you can take to level up your cybersecurity strategy and protect your business.
Here are some essential practices to implement today:
1. Enforce proper password management
One of the most critical steps to protecting employee and company data is enforcing proper password management for all remote team members. Their middle name and birth year won’t cut it.
Encourage all employees to use a solid password manager, which randomly generates passwords and safely stores them. It’s also helpful to use passphrases instead of passwords. Passphrases are generally longer, contain spaces, and include additional characters, making them harder to guess.
2. Use multifactor authentification (MFA)
Multifactor Authentication (or MFA) requires two or more verification factors before someone can gain access to a resource (an application, an online account, a VPN, etc.). With MFA, there are three types of information you might be asked to provide to verify your identity:
- Something you know (like a PIN or security question answer)
- Something you have (like a badge or smartphone)
- Something you inherently possess (like a fingerprint)
It’s easy to get frustrated by MFA, especially if you’ve lost your badge or can’t remember your PIN. However, most people agree that the increased security that MFA provides is too important to ignore.
3. Use Secure Single Sign-on (SSO)
Secure single sign-on (or SSO) allows users to securely authenticate multiple applications or websites with just one set of credentials.
The SSO login process typically looks like this:
- User browses to an app or website they want to access (this is the Service Provider)
- The Service Provider sends a token containing information about the user (such as an email address) to the SSO system or Identity Provider
- The Identity Provider determines if the user has previously been authenticated; if they have, they’ll be granted access
- If the user hasn’t been authenticated before, they’ll provide credentials (like a username and password)
- After validating credentials, the Identity Provider sends a token to the Service Provider confirming successful authentication.
- The token gets passed through the user’s browser to the Service Provider
- The received token gets validated
- The user is granted access
This might seem like a lengthy process, but it’s actually quite efficient. It also provides a significant level of security to you and your team.
4. Make best practices a remote work policy
When establishing policies for your remote team, include security-related best practices. The following are some essential ones everyone should use:
- Turn on firewalls
- Encrypt disks
- Enable encrypted backups
- Use Secure Socket Shell (SSH) keys
- Use a secure internet connection
At a minimum, your team should take these steps. Include instructions on how to execute each step so nobody can use ignorance as an excuse not to follow protocol.
5. Create a remote worker security policy
Clear expectations help prevent confusion and ensure all your employees follow the rules (including security-related regulations). When outlining guidelines and expectations for your team, be sure to add security policies like those mentioned in the previous section.
6. Have a response plan prepared
No matter how careful you are, security breaches can still happen. That’s why it’s crucial to have a response plan prepared. If you have a plan for how you’ll respond to a security issue, you can manage it faster and mitigate the damage.
7. Consider managed devices and employee monitoring
Managed devices like laptops and desktops provide additional security and reduce your team’s risk of falling victim to cyber threats.
Employee monitoring is also helpful for preventing security challenges. It lets you know how team members use their time and ensures they’re not engaging in behaviors that could jeopardize the company.
Stay secure while working remotely with Outstaffer
Whether you lead a team of two or 200, you and your employees deserve to feel safe while working remotely. Follow the cybersecurity best practices discussed above, and you’ll have a much easier time protecting valuable data.
Remember that the technology used to manage your team plays a critical role in maintaining your security. In addition to making it simple to recruit, hire and manage global employees from around the world, Outstaffer provides various solutions to enhance safety, productivity and performance, including managed devices, workforce monitoring and 24-7 enterprise-grade support.